Sri Lanka, India release detained fishing boats

COLOMBO – Sri Lanka and India have decided to release fishing boats taken into custody from both countries ahead of the visit of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to India on Sunday, a government minister said in Colombo.

downloadSri Lanka’s State Minister of Fisheries Dilip Wedaarachchi said that the Sri Lankan government has already taken measures to release 86 Indian boats in its custody.

The boats were seized when Indian fishermen were arrested on several occasions in Sri Lankan waters.

The fishermen had already been freed and Wedaarachchi said that the government had now decided to free the boats as a goodwill measure to mark Sirisena’s first visit to India since taking oaths as president last month.

He also said that 24 Sri Lankan boats in Indian custody and six fishermen are to be set free by India when Sirisena heads to India.

Sirisena is scheduled to leave for India on Sunday, his first overseas visit after assuming office since last month’s presidential elections. During his talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sirisena is expected to discuss the fishermen issue and ask Modi to stop Indian trawlers from entering Sri Lankan waters.